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Iranian-born, Frankfurt-based artist Mehdi Ghadyanloo (b. 1981) produces utopian and philosophical paintings that interrogate universal human precepts such as fear, hope, and loss. Through the depiction of stark, mysterious environments and surreal architectural arrangements, as well as the repeated use of symbolic motifs such as stairs, balloons, and airplanes, Ghadyanloo invites us to consider new realities and the shared universality of our existence. He is also known for his monumental public murals installed around central Tehran, which use illusionistic renderings of unexpected imagery to disrupt social spaces across the city. In Rainbow Talks (2020), Ghadyanloo creates an environment that is familiar yet fundamentally strange, much like how the future is often derived from recognizable circumstances yet continually presents an element of unexpected surprise. Playing with spatial perceptions and conventions of dimensionality, he portrays a vibrantly candy-colored system of slides, ladders, and towers reminiscent of children’s playgrounds. Rather than being set outside, this labyrinthian structure is situated within a rectangular box, which features a large hole at the top through which bright light emanates. Considered together, Ghadyanloo’s hyperrealistic painting technique and the uncanny subject matter create a work that alludes to a world adjacent to—but distinct from—our own.